Saturday, March 28, 2015


Another cold, spring day.   In February I would have celebrated a high of 24 degrees.  Not today.  I could have warmed up the sewing loft.  Instead, I chose to sew inside.  I need a zig zag for my current project and I wanted to use the Singer 237 in a treadle stand.   I even brought the machine in from the sewing loft.  Then, I realized that I don't have a treadle stand inside.    Hmmm.  I used to have a Singer treadle stand in the house.  In my zeal to divest, I gave it, and the Red Head, away over a year ago.  It's not that I don't have treadles in the house.  They are all too small for the 237. 

Now, I do have a treadle stand that I can bring inside that will house the 237.  I probably will figure out how to do that, some day.  It means that I will have to craft a new top for it and find room, somewhere.  That's the bad news.  The good news:  I won't have to try to sell it. 

Instead, since I needed a zig zag, I got out the 401A.  It lives in the museum.  I would have preferred to use Lila, the 158.511 but it is  V E R Y  H E A V Y.  Steven and I put it away last weekend (it, too, lives in the museum).  Lila is a lavender colored machine and is the quietest motorized machine I have ever used.  It is a high shank, class fifteen, central bobbin, end loader.  I love using it.   SMO.

I hated to ask Steven for his help getting Lila  off the shelf today.  The 401 is much lighter. I opted for it.

It, too, is a smooth and quiet machine.  It isn't as powerful as Lila and I don't get the same thrill when sewing with it.  Just the same, I love it. I learned how to sew using this machine.  Mom would hold me in her lap and I would guide the material as she controlled the motor with the knee lever.  Later on, as a teenager I sewed peasant blouses and altered my jeans (making them skin tight as was the fashion).  I am glad I got it out.  It is a pleasure to use.

I am making a set of Raggedy Ann dolls for a friend's daughters.  M. is Peruvian and she has beautiful, dark skin.  Her hair is black and she has warm, wonderful, brown eyes.  I really didn't want to make pink skinned Raggedy Ann dolls, though that is the traditional doll.  I found some fabric that EXACTLY matches M.s skin tone.  I used brown felt for the eyes and red for the nose and mouth.  I know that is pretty traditional, but it looks ok.  

They will have black hair but very bright dresses and pinafores. I hope I can find some fabric that reflects M.'s Peruvian heritage. 

Oh, I guess that means it is time to go fabric shopping.  What a disappointment.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Don't ask me how I did it.  I won't tell.  But a few weeks ago, I rolled the Nolting right off of the carriage and onto the bamboo wood floor in the guest apartment. 

It is true that I have tried, in vain, to keep a reasonable perspective on this mishap.  After all, my family and loved ones are all safe and healthy.  There are no real tragedies in our world right now and spring is on its way.  Just the same, I am B U M M E D.

The machine is on its way back to the factory for repair.  I am hopeful that it will not require much.  Just the same, shipping a 50 pound machine half way across the country is nerve wracking.

The hand wheel bent.
But it appeared that the shaft was ok.  Steven thinks that because this is aluminum it took to force and preserved the integrity of the shaft.  You can see it better in the photo below.  There are set screws that hold the hand wheel onto the shaft.  I don't know if they broke or not.

As best as I can tell, the machine landed on the hand wheel and then fell backward striking the sheet rock wall with the front handles.   There is a nice hole in the wall, just about the size of the left handle switch.  You can see the broken switch on the left  and that the handles are not even (these photos were taken in the shop.  Steven carried it down stairs for me and we put it on the bench)
Definitely bent 

 Steven noticed that it looked like the front hand wheel had been pushed forward some too.

I wasn't convinced because the whole thing still turned so easily.  I mean the motion was very smooth.  I figure if the shaft had moved, then the thing wouldn't turn.  

I had to take the front handles off to ship the machine.  I took that opportunity to look inside.  (I had been absolutely dying to do this ever since I brought the machine home but never dared to do so).  I took the side panel off and examined things.  Looks ok to me.  But what the devil do I know?
But wait,  what is that?  Some purple thread?  I never used purple thread when I used this machine.
I pulled on that piece of thread and got about three feet out.  Hmmmmm.  Makes you wonder how that happened?
Here is another view of the needle bar area.
No idear
The machine is scheduled to arrive in Iowa tomorrow.  I called to give them a heads up that it is on its way.  I will definitely feel better when I learn what the damage will cost.  Still, it's only money.  

My Wilson, on the other hand, is lame again.  Or something. But he got off the couch tonight to get some turkey.  So that's a good sign.  He came to greet me when I arrived home from work, but did not stand by the window this morning when I left.  Sure wish he could talk.  Which reminds me.

There once was this traveling salesman who drove by a house out in the country.  He saw a sign out front:  TALKING DOG FOR SALE. TEN BUCKS. He stopped and asked of the geezer smoking his pipe on the front porch.

"Do you really have a talking dog?"


May I see him?"

"YUP. He's out back.  Help yourself."

So the TS went out back and sure enough, there lying in the sun was a nondescript, black mutt of a dog.

"Can you talk?"

"Yes, yes I can." replied the dog. 

"Oh WOW.  How amazing."

"Yes, when it was discovered that I had this skill I was employed as a tactical agent for the FBI.  I could listen unobserved and report on the most notorious criminals.  I must have helped arrest hundreds of crooks.  Then, I got too bored with that line of work so I became a spy and worked for the CIA.  I absolutely was instrumental in thwarting many terrorist attacks and saved countless lives.  But I tired of all the thrill and drama and retired here, years ago.  Now I while away my days lying in the sun, chewing on bones and chasing squirrels."

"Wait, just a minute,  stay right here."  said the TS and he rushed out front to where the old man was still smoking his pipe.

"I'll buy him.  But why only ten dollars for that amazing dog?"

"Well, he may be able to talk but everything he told you just now is just a down right lie."

Friday, March 20, 2015


It didn't even get above freezing today.  It snowed another inch or so.   I could take the snow fall if we had had some 50 degree weather in here.  Heck, I'd take 40!

It has been a long and brutal winter.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


  Tonight  the forecast is for three more inches of snow.  Enough, already.  The dogs haven't been out of the yard, heck, they haven't been off the walk, in weeks.  The snow is so deep.  They sink right up to their chests when I try to walk them.  I can stay supported on the snow shoes, but they sink right in.  Plus, it has been so bitter cold, they don't even WANT to leave the yard.  I try, really I do.  They just stop, in their tracks, and won't move. 

 "How much are we supposed to get?"  DH asks. 

"About three inches.  It will taper off after midnight." I read from the NOAA site.

 Yesterday we finally had twenty four hours in which the temperature stayed above ZERO F.  I washed my car   before I drove up to New Hartford to  Sew Wilde for a mini long arm quilting seminar given by Joyce Blowers .  I think the car stayed clean for about thirty miles.  It was only 18 degrees when I washed it.  I violated the 20 degree rule but I couldn't stand the mud and crap on the car ANOTHER MINUTE.  I managed to get some back spray on my boots when I tried, in vain, to clean out the wheel wells.  That ice was SOLID.

I enjoyed the seminar and it was great to see Joyce and Ron.  They will come by on Tuesday to replace the motor in the Nolting.  I will miss them.  I must work.  Steven, lucky guy, will be here.

Because we had "milder temperatures"  I was able to warm up both the guest apartment and the sewing loft today.  I spent much of the afternoon rearranging the sewing loft.  It is now ready for J. when he comes to look at installing a baseboard heater.  Steven volunteered that he might call him this week.  You know I got inspired when I heard that.

I had thought that I would ditch the junky barrister's bookcase (REMEMBER THE PFAFF)  but thought better of it.  Instead I reorganized the thread. 
I got a little bit of a buzz thinking I might finally get organized.  There is so much to do.  But I am getting closer.  I know that moving the Nolting to the sewing loft makes sense.  It took until 4 PM to get the guest apartment to 60.  The loft heated up to that in two hours. 

Now to get rid of more stuff.  I have a problem.  Honestly, why am I hanging onto a 50+  year old Singer 401 cardboard box?  You know, the one that Mom brought her machine home in when she bought it.  I just think, well, hell, she hung on to it that long, seems a shame to ditch it now. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Singer Improved Family

I have more or less decided to fit the Nolting in the Sewing Loft.  Steven agrees.  I think he would like to have the guest apartment for guests. 

My sewing loft is in the upstairs of our Dutch Barn.  It is so called because it looks like it came out of a picture book of Holland.  It has a gambrel roof with shingle siding.  All that is missing is the windmill.  It gets nice and toasty out there with the little Jotul stove but the firebox holds only enough fuel for a few hours.    Anything larger would cook us right out of there.  My solution, which I had proposed YEARS ago, is a hard wired, electric baseboard heater complete with thermostat set a 45-50.  Steven finally thinks this is a good idea.  We must contact our electrician and once the heater is installed,  hire someone to blow in the expanding foam insulation.  It’s the dead of winter now.  This is a spring/summer project.  I don’t know when Steven will contact our electrician.  I might ask him, but he  might perceive that as nagging. 

“Honey, would you consider it nagging if I asked you when you were going to contact J.”

(Pregnant pause long enough to complete gestation and deliver the baby)

“I don’t know when I am going to contact J.”

“That wasn’t the question.”  OK, OK, I could be considered a manipulative bitch, but he does love me.

(Another pause.  We now have Twins).

“I don’t know….”

“Good,  I will take that as a No.”

Now  I know that he doesn’t know when he will contact J. and that he doesn’t consider it nagging that I asked. 

“I think I will wait until it is warmer before I call him.  Why, do you think you are going to have that space ready soon?”

I confessed that I will not have the loft ready at all soon.  But I am preparing.

Today we brought the Singer Improved Family from it’s storage space in my sewing loft to the shop.  I have an interested party coming to look at it on Saturday.  I thought that I had better make sure it works, since I advertised thusly.

Ever see an IF shuttle? 

It is a bit of a pain to get the bobbin in there and threaded but it is doable.  I am thankful that Singer abandoned this in favor of the central bobbin with removable bobbin case. 

I used Howard’s Restor-a-finish on the cabinet and the bonnet.  I cleaned the irons superficially with Tuff Stuff and then rubbed them with a Goo Gone rag I had used on my hands.  The machine looks fine.  Of course, I don’t want to sell it now.  It is from 1886 and is one of my oldest machines. 

There is a chance that the interested party wants it for the irons to use for a bathroom vanity or such  Something tells me so.  If that is the case, he will go home empty handed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I have Wednesdays off every week.  Technically I work part time.  That means I get paid for working 32 hours but I usually work more like 34-35.  It is just the nature of my job.

Today I had to go in for BLS refresher.  I was finished before 10 AM.  Now that I am certified for another two years, I can save human lives, should the occasion arise.  I hope it never does.

I much prefer saving sewing machines.

 I took Wilson to the vet later this morning for his suture removal.  He was such a good boy.  He just stood there while Dr. B. snipped those stitches away.  He didn't even flinch.   Then we went to the car wash.  That was a waste of 15 minutes and 4 dollars.  Just the same, for five minutes my not yet paid for car was clean.  OK, it was clean for longer than that, but the last three miles of the trip home rendered the car muddy and salty.  With sub zero temps coming I won't be able to wash the car for weeks.

I really thought that the BLS refresher would take all morning and that the suture removal would take much of the afternoon.  Not that taking out stitches is a big deal.  Trekking to the vet and waiting sometimes takes longer than one would think.  But, no.  I was home well before 1 PM.  Bonus time.  What to do with it all?

Get that 158.1931 out and see how wide that ZZ really is.  Which is exactly what I did, after I broke trail through the back field on snow shoes so the dogs would be able to get out of the yard.  We got out, but they wanted to come right back and Frannie said " No way, I will wait here."

I knew that I had a set of attachments for this machine.  I just couldn't find them.  I looked in my box of miscellaneous Kenmore attachments and cams but did not find the set.  I did find a button hole attachment and a full set of cams.  If nothing else, I could see how they worked.

The Kenmore 158.1931 has about a 5 mm ZZ.  The button hole attachment did work well. Very nifty  set up.   Not being a garment sewer I have little interest in button holes.   I can see why folks like a built in button hole stitch.   This attachment required some effort to set up but once attached to the machine it worked quite nicely.  I might even make some button holes, for fun.  

I played with some cams, too.  I have never had success with the duck, fish or tulip cams on other Kenmores.  They worked beautifully on this machine.  The built in special stitches were equally gorgeous.  So now what?

"No wonder I have a problem," I said to Steven as he helped himself to a snack.  "I love all these machines."

"Well, it's better than boats or cars."  he replied.

 It makes me nuts that I can't find stuff.  I remembered putting all the attachments that came with this machine in a box.  I knew that they had to be in the shop.  I looked for a third time, I moved a bunch of empty shoe boxes (I am saving them for some reason) and there they were.  WHEW!

Now, machine and attachments are all together in a canvas LL Bean bag I bought really cheap at the outlet store years ago. Who cares if my name isn't Harrison?  The bag is tough, big and will house this machine AND its attachments in one place.

So, it was a good day: BLS re-certified, Wilson sutureless and happy, sewing machine and attachments reunited, car cleaner than it was and a path made for the dog walk.

Oh, yes, and Steven did the dishes tonight.  I suppose I should make note of it on the calendar.